On 30A and Our First Family Vacation

Boys,

Sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut when you journal/blog/write to your kids, where you think that if you don’t have something profound to say, then you just don’t say anything at all. But I need to remember that I can just talk to you and not have to have it be about anything at all.

With that, it’s been a few weeks since we got back from a trip to 30A (aka – Rosemary Beach). Your mom and I talked about finding a place like this to get a vacation home in a place like this, so who knows, if we end up somewhere on 30A, then this post might have a little more meaning to you.

As it stands, we don’t yet have that house and it’s more likely than not that neither of you will remember anything about this particular trip. With that, I figured it would be worthwhile to recap some of the things we did and some of the ups and downs of that trip from how I saw it.

First, the flights were unique. Reagan, you did pretty good the whole time. You were excited about taking off and landing, and were on your iPad most of in between those two things. Koen, you surprised us with a solid A grade on your travel down. We did stop briefly in Nashville for a layover, and honestly, that was probably the toughest time you had as far as travel goes.

We did a lot on 30A (in 30A? It’s a stretch of road with a lot of little beach towns with names like Watercolor and Seaside). We rented a condo with a golf cart, and Reagan, you would have just taken that to all the places and been perfectly happy. The weather was good-not-great. Mostly sunny and warm, but not warm enough to heat up the community pool or allow us to get in the Gulf (we did let the waves chase us up the beach). We also rented bikes and rode them every morning.

Koen, I think you thrived at a cool little collection of shops, restaurants, and live music stage across the street from our condo called “The Hub.” We stopped by most mornings for coffee where you got to explore the empty stage, and also most nights for some live music. You were fascinated by the live music and even put a few dollars into the tip jar for all the musicians.

We found a cool little town called Alys Beach where all the buildings were white, and we took the golf cart down to get donuts one morning. The other town we liked was called Watercolor, and they had really cool shops, some great food trucks and bar food, and was just a great place to watch all the people buzzing around.

This was our first trip with just the four of us. Rogue was with us in spirit, but told me before we left that he didn’t want to deal with the travel so he decided to sit this trip out. We had a lot of fun, there were a handful of stressful moments, but all in all, I loved being on vacation with you boys and exploring a new place along side you both (and your mom, of course).

I’m sure there will be a lifetime of trips like this, but there is something special about this one that I will remember forever.

Love,

Dad

On To Koen

Koen,

You are an amazing, wonderful, funny, sometimes psychotic, other times love magnetic, absolute honor-to-be-your-dad kind of kid.

There is so much I love about you. Your personality has exploded in the past few months. You love your family, and your dog. You will walk up to Rogue and tuck your head into him, just like you do your favorite characters in “Everything is Mama.” You love your dad. My favorite way to start the day is when your brother is still asleep, you and me get up early, come downstairs, I pour you a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and you sit on my lap and we have a snack. It doesn’t matter what’s on — Mickey or sports — you’re happy to be there with me as much as I am with you.

You’re exploring your voice, too. You grunt, yell, change inflection, learn, forget, learn again. You babble. With your Mima, you ramble but with changing sounds and tones and it’s like you’re just chatting with an old friend. Your laugh fills up the room. Your cries also fill up the room, but that’s another post.

You’re playful. You cheers like the world is ending and you dance when you see your mom dance. You fit into our family so perfectly and I can already see a day when you’re your brother’s age now, and you’re going to be so different in so many ways. But there are going to be things that stay constant with you, too. I love your heart, your passion, your presence, your joy, and the way you look; asleep in the monitor.

No matter what our life looks like in the future, I will love you through the bad times, celebrate you through the good times, and awe in the boy you’re becoming.

Love, Dad

On Reagan’s Poop-Phase

This isn’t an easy topic to cover, but sometimes you have to call out your own son on some sh…

Reagan,

This is me taking the power back. As I write this, you’re less than a month out from your 4th birthday. You’re very kind, love trucks and construction equipment, enjoy playing in your room with me, and are just genuinely in a place where having fun is your top priority. However, you’re also going through a “poop-phase.”

Now this “poop-phase” isn’t like the horror-movie, enter the room and cue the shrieking sound effects, “decorate the walls” kind of “poop-phase.” It isn’t a “curiosity with the utility” kind of “poop-phase.” Thankfully, that side of the coin is kept mostly under wraps.

No, your “poop-phase” has to do with the word itself — “poop.”

The face you give every single time you say the word, “poop.”

I think being a good parent means that I should engage with you and ask you questions. I think I should challenge you to explain how you feel or why you reacted to something in a specific way. I want to stimulate your brain so that you expand your sphere and think bigger, outside-the-box thoughts that will change your world.

I think I might be a tad ambitious, because as of recently, your little brain just defaults to “poop” whenever I try to ask you questions.

  • Me: Reagan, what’d you dream about last night?
  • You: Poop
  • Me: You dreamed about poop? Do you have to go to the bathroom?
  • You: Poop!
  • Me: Uh-huh. Did you dream about anything else?
  • You: Pee
  • Me: Good talk, son. Go brush your teeth — excited to pick up on this conversation when you get downstairs.

Oh, and guess what song you want to listen to non-stoppity-stop on the reggie — The Poop Song by The Toilet Bowl Cleaners. I hope that you read this when you’re an adult and click on the link and it still works somehow and you listen to it and say to yourself, “why was I such a strange kid?” Guess how many unique words there are in this song — not 2…not 3….not 4…

Now I want to build a relationship with you and your brother where you can tell me anything — good, bad, embarrassing — whatever it is, I want to know about it. With that being said, too much of anything can tiptoe toward too much, and I think that is where your “poop-phase” has taken us.

Your grandma told me that your uncle Tyler had a “poop-phase” too, and that it was super annoying at the time, but funny looking back at it. I’m sure that is how I’ll feel one day, but I also wouldn’t be mad if we moved on from the “poop-phase” in the near future.

I digress. In truth, I know this is just you exploring your silly side and I love seeing you find your sense of humor. Everyday you and Koen become a little more unique, say and do new things that I’ve never seen or heard, and it becomes more and more fun to be your dad. Would I enjoy being your dad just as much without us going through this “poop-phase?” Maybe. Probab…yes. Yes I would.

Love you boys.

Dad

On Koen is Almost One!

Koen,

As I write this, we are about 12 days away from your first birthday. It’s crazy to think about all the stages of this past year. But just so you have something to reference, here they are:

STAGE 1: ‘So this is what all those sounds I heard from in there is all about’ stage

STAGE 2: ‘I understand sleeping, but I refuse’ stage

STAGE 3: ‘The hold me and bounce me or else’ stage

STAGE 4: “OK I’ll sleep at night, but all bets are off during the day’ stage

STAGE 5: ‘The hold me and bounce me or else — part 2’ stage

STAGE 6: ‘So these teeth are coming soon? Well, then everything hurts’ stage

STAGE 7: ‘Hey look I can crawl! But I still need you to hold me and bounce me or else’ stage

STAGE 8: ‘I’m on the carb-only diet, TYVM’ stage

Catch me outside

So that is about it. I was going to elaborate on each of these a bit, but I think it is pretty well understood what was going on during each of those stages just by the titles. At the end of the day, the important thing is that through all the holding, chasing you around the house, and angry meal time screaming because we’re trying to get you to eat something other than Ritz crackers, your mom and I kind of like you.

As a second child, it’s really hard not to naturally compare you to Reagan. I want to describe your looks, temperament, personality, etc. to the way Reagan was when he was your age. But I realize that as you look back and read this, that isn’t really fair to you. You’re your own person and while some things might be very similar, they are inherently yours.

SWAG

You’re very much a monkey-see-monkey-do kind of kid. Maybe it’s ironic that I call you “monkey.” But you love doing a voice, waiting for me to do the same voice back to you, and then doing it again. There is a game we play (usually when I’m changing you or getting you ready for a bath) where I’ll look away and wait for you to make a noise. As soon as you do, I’ll whip my head around to face you and you will just gut-laugh. Your laugh is one of my favorite things in the world. I will I could save it on my phone and play it on repeat all day long.

Another thing about you is that while you just started crawling not too long ago, it almost seems like you’re over it and ready to walk. You love pulling yourself up on furniture or toys and using those things to move around the room or around the house. I’m always nervous when you’re on the hard floor that the toy is going to move a little faster than you, and you’ll faceplant into the floor. So, you usually ask that I follow you around and make sure that doesn’t happen. (When we’re on the carpet, go nuts! I’ll be over here).

We’ve been on a few runs together, too. I don’t think we’ve done a 1-on-1 run yet, but you mostly enjoy going in the double stroller with me and Reagan. I’m glad we have a good running double stroller, but even still, you two are NOT easy to push on that thing. Actually, the pushing isn’t the hard part, it’s the maneuvering. There is a little bit of a wheelie-and-pivot thing going on and it is a momentum-killer. I’d say you enjoy our runs for about 85% of the time. But, if we stay out too long, you let us know about it. There was one time you had enough and we were about 2 miles from home. I think I broke some course records getting us all back, all the while talking you down and explaining to Reagan that it was really hard to keep a conversation about trains with everything else going on in those 15 minutes (he is such a talker during our runs!).

Rauch Run Club

Right now in our lives, there are a lot of bad things happening to the people we love around us. I don’t think this is the right place to talk about it, but ask me in a few years and I’ll let you know what was going on. But with so much out of my control that happens in this world, I am so thankful that you are healthy, more-or-less happy, and (along with your brother) bring me so much joy. I know all of that can change in a minute, but I want to acknowledge you now and pray that continues throughout your life.

I love that you are the one that completed our family. Your mom is great about getting pictures of you and your brother (and dog Rogue) up all around the house. And as I’m sitting here now, watching you sleep on your monitor, I’m looking at pictures of all the places we’ve been in such a short time and I am so happy to have all these great memories with you. I was running by myself this morning and thinking about the cicadas that took over earlier in the spring, and how it will be another 17 years before they come back — you’ll be almost 18 the next time they come back and won’t have any idea what these things are or how they got here. But I’ll think about this first year of your life and how crazy of a time it was for our family.

Derps for days

So cheers to a wild first ride around the sun, and cheers to a lifetime of new memories that we’ll look back on one day and cherish forever.

Love,

Dad

On Facial Hair

Boys,

Who am I to speak to trends decades from now, when other males your age may or may not find that growing facial hair is something worthy of pursuit? What I can speak to is that in today’s world, men of just about any age can coif a scruffy moustache or tightly kempt beard and look flier than a feather in zero gravity.

Before I continue, I should apologize. There are many things I will pass on to you both — rugged good looks, unparalleled athleticism, witty word-talk n’ stuff, and I’ll show you both how much one man can love his boys. But what I need to apologize for is that which I cannot give you — facial hair.

You see, I started getting facial hair the same time as most other boys my age growing up — 22 or 23 years old. However, my facial hair has always been thin and, frankly, embarrassing. After a few days without shaving, your mom would whisper sweetly to me that I look like someone who, if I were to do the things that she suggested I look like, would carry a minimum sentence of 25+ years.

This is actually a picture of me on my 21st birthday.

The point is, I can’t grow it and my guess is that you boys probably won’t either. OR — life will play a cruel joke on your dad and give you both glorious facial hair. And you’ll both probably wear it over when you come to visit your mom and I, braided down the chin like Aquaman or something — like I said, I don’t know what kind of facial-fashion 2040 has in store. And the nuts of it is that your uncle Jordan, Papa Rauch and all his brothers, even everyone on your Grandma’s side of the family…can all grow facial hair. Why can’t I?!?

You know, I made this blog as a way to kind of talk to you both as I am now to who you’ll be some day when you’re old enough to pick up on some of my humor and tone. I hope that as you age, you’ll appreciate these posts in different ways and I hope they are something you can come back to and find a piece of who I am, who you both were, and what our lives were like outside of the pictures and videos of us from this time.

But it’s also therapy for me to vent and acknowledge my shortcomings in a way that makes other people smile and allows me to laugh at myself.

So whatever you take from this, just enjoy the ride and I hope that you can find moments of brevity when you can step back and appreciate life’s silly moments. And if I can end on a poker analogy, a 2-7 off cracks aces 12% of the time, so make the most of whatever squirrely chin hair you end up with (or do the smart thing and just keep a clean shave).

Love you, boys.

Dad

To My Son, Koen

Koen,

I think I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again — sometimes I want to write to just one child. Part of me feels like I’ve written to Reagan for two years before having a chance to write to you, so there is some making up I need to do. In either case, I want to write to you because I want you to know how special you are to me, your mom, Reagan, and our family. (Not to mention, your grandparents and just about anyone else who meets you).

Your mom sometimes calls you a COVID baby — I’m hoping by the time you read this, that won’t make any sense to you. But because you were born in 2020, the sad truth is that your birth year will also be remembered as the year that COVID-19 – aka “coronavirus” — took over the world. This was a time when everyone was forced to stay indoors and away from people. Because of that, you haven’t been acclimated to the world the way a normal baby would the first year of his life.

Chilling out maxing relaxing all cool —

Despite the struggle to find normalcy this past year, you’ve been such a bright spot for me. Sure, the lack of sleep didn’t earn you many brownie points with me or your mom, but you’re starting to get the hang of it and we’re actually starting to get some sleep at night (you + your mom and me). You getting a good night’s sleep I think has made you a happier baby throughout the day, and that is just a good thing for everyone.

Right now as I write this, you’re 7 months old. Its hard to say the things you like and don’t like, because you’re still figuring out this whole world-thing, but I think there are a few things that make you more happy than others.

  • Being carried — especially in this “strap-you-to-my-chest-facing-out” thing I wear. When nothing else works, I strap you up and we just walk around the house.
  • Baths – your mom is usually the one who gives you baths, but the amount of Instagram videos or pics there are of you, naked-butt, being held by your mom getting selfies in the bathroom mirror before your bath is borderline concerning — but it is super-cute and you eat it up so I love it too.
  • Bouncing- whether it’s in your bouncer or being held under your armpits and just hopping on my stomach, you like to jump.
  • Raspberries – aka the thing when you get your belly blown on and it makes the big fart sound.
  • Waking up from naps and seeing your mom or me – you are kind of startled, but as soon as you pick up on what’s happening, you get the biggest smile.
  • Your blanket — Reagan calls his “Mel” because it’s shaped like a giraffe and we named him after the character in Madagascar. Your looks like a lion, so we tried to name him “Alex” or “Al,” but we’ll see if that sticks.

I just want you to know I’m super excited to be your dad. We have moments like tonight where you and Reagan got up at the same time, so I got you out of bed and we went into Reagan’s room where your mom and he were sitting in his bed. I laid you down next to Reagan and we had a family moment and it just made me really happy. This is just a tiny taste of what the next 15-20 years will look like as a family, and I can’t wait for all the moments — both little and big — to happen.

In the meantime, I just want you to be happy. Keep on figuring this sleep thing out, then we can work on crawling, popping some teeth out, and turning you into the happiest, healthiest, perfectest little person there is. Your mom and I are so thankful to have you complete our family, and we both love you so very very much.

-Dad

On Becoming a Boy

Son,

You change every day. At the same time, you do so many of the same funny things every day. For example, you wake up and have the same conversation every morning…

Us: Goodmorning!

You: Two Mels! Boats. Mima, Papa. Hi Rogue! Mama. Two Mels!

Us: Can I have you?

You: No! Nap. Hi Rogue! Two Mels!

It’s really an inventory check on your crib items and a recap of the same dream you have every night (the same dream that you pre-plan every night when we ask you what you’re going to dream about — yellow boat with all your favorite people).

Lately, you’ve been making a lot of subtle changes that let me know you’re becoming a little boy. You take direction. Sometimes, you ignore direction, but you understand what we’re asking you to do. You negotiate. Sometimes you need your matchbox cars when you eat, and if I ask you to eat three bites to get your car, you might tell me “two bites.” Or, when we’re wrapping up watching a show (usually Peppa), you’ll tell us “one Peppa,” (which means you just need one more episode to get your fix).

IMG_8656

The other night, we got dressed up to go to a party. We usually rock the messy hair look around the house, but that night we put some of my product in your hair. You stood there and was patient while I put the pomade in your hair and brushed it. It was like you knew we were getting dressed up, and understood that you needed to be still while I got you ready.

You’re also just more confident in your movements. You still fall from time to time, and still blame stationary objects for getting in your way while you tornado through the house (no-no floor! Don’t you jump up out of nowhere and trip Reagan!). But, I don’t worry about you running from one room to the other. I don’t worry about you climbing on or off couches, or stepping off the step onto the porch.

The other thing, and maybe the most visual way, that you are becoming a little boy is that you’re just getting longer. You have little definition in your legs and your body is just stretching out. When you lay in your crib and spread out, you look huge. You still don’t weight a ton and you’re probably still on the shorter side of kids who are almost two, but to me you just look huge.

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I’m very excited to see you changing so much. You used to be so much fun just to look at, but now you are making decisions, having conversations, communicating your thoughts, making jokes, and everything else that makes you so much fun to interact with.

The other thing that has been fun is seeing you and Rogue interact. You now help pour his food in the morning and give him his pills. You also call him up with us when we go up the stairs and kind of double-tap your butt to get him moving. You tell him to, “lay down,” “sit,” and always give him a much bigger hello in the morning than your mom or me.

OK, son. All for now.

Dad

20 Things about You

Son,

Today isn’t unlike any other day. It’s not a milestone month and while your personality changes daily, there isn’t anything special about today that would make me want to point out milestones or landmarks in your life. With that being said, I wanted to give you a little snapshot into who you are today, May 31st, and what makes you so uniquely you.

  1. You are very shy when you meet new people or come into a big group away from home, but you are a total ball of tornado energy when you’re at home and with your dog.
  2. You love seeing yourself when we first Facetime your cousins or Papa/Mima. Your face lights up and you laugh, and it is the perfect start to a phone conversation.
  3. Everything goes in your mouth. Doesn’t matter. You’ve even found a way to turn kisses into changes to open-mouth tastings of your mom and me.
  4. You wag your finger and “No! No! No!” anything you bump into or that knocks you down. You were standing at an end table, fell to your butt and momentum (very gradually) threw you back and you bonked your head on the floor. When your mom calmed you down, you turned to the floor and, very seriously, told it “No! No! No!”
  5. You love to be carried. But when you don’t, you absolutely turn to dead weight and try to drop down to the ground. But then you usually sit there for a second and want to be held again.
  6. We can finally sit for 10, 15, 20 minutes and watch shows — better chance if snacks are involved. Your favs are Peppa Pig “Pepppppa Pig!,” Sesame Street (mostly for Elmo), and Dinosaur Train (more so with Deb than with us).
  7. You are a huge smoothie guy. We don’t make smoothies often, but when we do, you have some of ours and also need your own.
  8. You love carbs like your mom and dad.
  9. You will request-beg-demand to go outside (in that order), but once we do, you barely say anything. You obviously love being outside, but you are more likely to take everything in than to comment of everything.
  10. Birds, school buses, big trucks, aggressively smelling coffee and flowers (audible snnniiffff), snugs with your mom and dad, reading and rereading the same three books are all your jam.
  11. I wouldn’t say you have a hitting problem, but I think you want to pat other people like you would your dog a little too aggressively sometimes. We were at a brewary the other day (a kid-friendly one, mind you — and yes that does make it better), and you were being held by your mom. She walked by a man sitting down, and you basically “good-boy’d” him by pat-patting him on the head. I guess he was doing a good job at minding his business until you came through. Well done, sir.
  12. You are very social with people and other kids your age (after that initial shyness), which is really good because your mom and I worry with you not being in a daycare system, that you might not have otherwise been good with other kids (is that a run on sentence? I’m going to roll with it).
  13. You love to dance.
  14. You love to be crazy sometimes, and just run from the living room around the kitchen island for no reason while you scream like a crazy person and laugh at yourself. Rogue doesn’t know how to handle that Reagan.
  15. If pools are cool, then you’d be Miles Davis. Not sure what that means, but what I mean is that you love being in pools.
  16. You are so smart. People we meet think you’re older than you are because you’re a great walker (you do have an athletic dad!), you have a great head of hair, but also because you’re so smart. You interact with us and with people, and know what all your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hair, shoes, Mama/Dada, doggie, books, racecars, Mickey, school bus…. the list goes on and on, and you’re not even a year and a half.
  17. You are a perfect little balance of your mom and I and we love seeing each side of us come through a little in you.
  18. If we’re not talking to you, especially when you’re eating, you’re letting us know about it.
  19. Airplanes are either great or terrible for you — there is no middle ground.
  20. You love your momma/mom-ee, dadda/dadd-ee, dog, Deb-Deb, G-ma, Gigi, Papa and Mima, and everyone else in your family. Strangers are still dangers, but you know and recognize the people who love you and give them all the love back.

There are so many other things that you do, say, are, feel, and show with all your little energy that this list can’t capture who you are. All I want to say now is that you are so amazing and so loved. You are also a ladies man and have just about everyone eating out of your palm when you put your head on your mom or dad’s shoulder, then blow them kisses as you tell them “bye-bye.”

On that note: bye bye!

Dad

On TGIS(pring)

Son,

I love you. Your mom loves you. Rogue loves you, but that might be because you leak food like an old car leaks oil. But let’s be honest with each other, we need this warm weather so we can get outside.

Sure, we have passes to the zoo which has some indoor exhibits (hello, you’re a huge fish guy). And we have COSI passes, which is fine for taking a long afternoon (perfectly spaced between naps and meals, of course). We even have gone on some fun field trips to the Franklin Park Conservatory to see some butterflies. But for the most part this past winter, we’ve spent A LOT  of time….. indoors.

Now, we do a lot of fun things indoors. Some of your recent favorites have been playing with poker chips (usually before bed), looking at race medals, dancing to Alexa (next!), and snacking while watching Peppa Pig, Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, and GooGoo and GaaGaa. Now, as much fun as we have all the time, you can get a little cranky when you get bored. Which is why having the option to go outside is something we all, your mom and I especially, welcome with hope and excitement.

Spring has given us a few warm and somewhat dry days so far, and we’ve taken advantage. You love walks with your dog, playing in your yard, and the occasional trip to a local brewery where your mom and I can settle in while you find some fun outdoors (we’re there with you, BTW. We don’t just send you off and saddle up to the bar). A recent fav. has been Nocterra, where we met another couple who had a baby a little older than you and, fingers crossed, we might have made some adult friends!

There is so much your mom and I want to do with you as the weather gets warmer. We have a lawn mower that blows bubbles, plastic tee ball set, plastic golf clubs, a fenced in yard with minimal amounts of sharp corners, a hose with a sprinkler attached, jogging stroller that may or may not have been recalled because the front wheel falls off (feeling lucky? let’s get a run in!), and tons of other things you are going to love and we are going to love watching you experience for the first time.

Now granted, you’ve lived through a Spring-Summer-Fall before, but you were a baby who couldn’t even roll, and now you’re a walking-ish, talking-ish, unstoppable ball of energy ready to get out in the world and take it over.

So here is to warm days at the park, lots of sunshine, snacks on the porch while we look for school buses, unplanned adventures, and maybe a few more trips to some breweries because it helps keep your mom and dad sane. We can still drink our milk and watch Peppa, but we’ll do that looking forward to getting to go play outside afterward.